When we praise craft we often admire the experience and technical skill it takes to make by hand, but also the mysterious and elusive quality of artistic talent. Functionality is a must, but it is the deep understanding and respect for materials that the artist magnifies to find poetic ways to join the parts.
Elba Morales, senior designer at Hickok Cole, describes her process: “Initial sketches for a building capture the same functional/poetic balance. They happen, not as an initial gut reaction to an unknown problem, but as the result of rigorous site analysis in which the specific traits of a location are identified, qualified, and distilled; the potential, recognized; and the framework to maximize it, laid out.”
What happens next is akin to how an athlete gets in “the zone.” The ritual of the method becomes transformative. The designer’s hand sketch is both controlled and subconscious, rational and emotional, disciplined and free. In “the zone” alchemy happens through the transformation of common, seemingly disparate qualities into a special whole.
Clarity emerges. A bold attitude towards the curtain wall and its underbelly lifted from the ground, a dynamic base that resembles the hemline of a dress, folds and cuts that cinch the building’s silhouette and draw your eye from the entry towards the top, a tailored presence within the City skyline. It is all there within a seemingly frantic emotive sketch that early on, already contains the essence of the design vision.
by Elba Morales, Assoc. AIA and Holly Lennihan, RA, LEED AP